- The country is known to be notorious for administering justice on time and expeditiously despite lampooning of the phenomenon in various platforms highlighting the bane bogging the society. We are all witnesses to many movies and plays depicting the difficulties faced by the common citizens while seeking a judicial remedy. It’s another story altogether that despite numerous attempts at closing a litigation one way or the other, the case keeps dragging on for eternity is also equally true. Respite still appears to be a mirage for scores of seekers. How often have we heard the maxim justice delayed is justice denied being bandied about when ordinary people flock to the portals of justice with a hope of receiving succor but return empty-handed.
- One of the contributory factors for the present state of the judicial administering lagging is the vacancies existing right from the Supreme Court to lower courts hindering the process much to the detriment of effective law enforcement mechanism itself. It is no wonder the Supreme Court has expressed disquiet over mounting vacancies in high courts and tribunals pointing at the Government’s delay in accepting its recommendations for appointments revealing a dangerous divide. Note that many domain-specific tribunals were set up in the initial decades of liberalization after HCs struggled with the disposal of specialized matters. Sadly, neither have the pendency woes of HCs been sorted nor have tribunals achieved their aims.
- Reports suggest SC judges who head statutory selection committees for tribunal vacancies have decided to stop working until 100 recommendations made since 2017 are appointed. It is revealed that 21 names recommended for NCLT and NCLAT (company law), 10 for NCDRC (consumer disputes), 35 recommended for ITAT (income tax), and 20 for AFT (armed forces) are hanging fire. On top of it, other tribunals like TDSAT (telecom), DRT (debt recovery), RCT (railways), and CAT are headless or plagued by crippling vacancies. Most worryingly, high courts where tribunal disputes land up are faring equally bad with an astonishing 455 vacancies among 1098 sanctioned posts. No wonder, the SC is unhappy over the prevailing situation.
PC: Aneesha Mathur
- The simmering Government-SC differences delaying appointments traces back to 2015 when the latter struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission as well as court negating the former’s attempts at restructuring tribunals since 2017. Consequently, the Memorandum of Procedure to guide the post-NJAC collegium in judicial appointments remains in limbo. Further, the Government’s move to regulate service conditions for judicial members of tribunals triggered vehement resistance from the legal community which cited the move as contrary to principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary. Undoubtedly, the smooth functioning of tribunals is equally key to the country as a whole.
- The ease of doing business experience largely depends on the speed of disposal of litigation as well as the quality of justice administered. People are already reeling under the impact of the pandemic-induced challenges from every conceivable front. The judicial stalemate in matters concerning adjudication will only pile on the miseries of ordinary citizens hopefully looking up to the justice delivery system to come to their aid. Thus, it is imperative for both the Government as well the SC to join hands proactively to ensure procedural battles are settled amicably for the larger interest of the nation.